Advertisement

Grading Individual Observations of Practice in Child Welfare Contexts: A New Assessment Approach in Social Work Education

Abstract

Students in the Frontline social work qualifying program undertake seven graded observations of practice in child welfare contexts during their qualifying studies. Before the Frontline program, educators had not attempted to implement graded observations of practice in a qualifying program in the United Kingdom. In this paper, we seek to show how graded practice observations have been undertaken in the Frontline program and provide information about the research base informing its development. A summary of findings from three preliminary research studies are presented. We suggest it is possible to grade practice consistently in child-welfare social work. However, we found considerable variation in marks awarded and evidence of grade inflation in all three studies. Using an interpretive lens, we argue that differences between graders should be anticipated because this is a complex assessment task requiring context-dependent judgment. We recommend developing a “consensus discussion” approach to moderation to improve reliability of grading practices, in which graders are encouraged to make the reasoning behind their grading decisions explicit.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 99

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

References

  1. Adie, L. (2013). The development of shared understandings of assessment policy: Traveling between global and local contexts. Journal of Education Policy, 29(4), 532–545.

  2. Beddoe, L., Ackroyd, J., Chinnery, S., & Appleton, C. (2011). Live supervision of students in field placement: More than just watching. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 30(5), 512–528.

  3. Bellinger, A. (2010). Talking about (re)generation: Practice learning as a site of renewal for social work. British Journal of Social Work, 40(8), 2450–2466.

  4. Bloxham, S. (2009). Marking and moderation in the UK: False assumptions and wasted resources. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34(2), 209–220.

  5. Bloxham, S., den Outer, B., Hudson, J., & Price, M. (2016). Let’s stop the pretence of consistent marking: Exploring the multiple limitations of assessment criteria. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(3), 466–481.

  6. Bloxham, S., Hughes, C., & Adie, L. (2016). What’s the point of moderation? A discussion of the purposes achieved through contemporary moderation practices. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(4), 638–653.

  7. Bogo, M. (2006). Field instruction in social work: A review of the research literature. The Clinical Supervisor, 24(1/2), 163–193.

  8. Bogo, M. (2015). Field education for clinical social work practice: Best practices and contemporary challenges. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43(3), 317–324.

  9. Bogo, M., Lee, B., McKee, E., Baird, S. L., & Ramjattan, R. (2016). Field instructors’ perceptions of foundation year students’ readiness to engage in field education. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 35(2), 204–214.

  10. Bogo, M., Lee, B., McKee, E., Ramjattan, R., & Baird, S. L. (2017). Bridging class and field: Field instructors’ and liaisons’ reactions to information about students’ baseline performance derived from simulated interviews. Journal of Social Work Education, 5(4), 580–594.

  11. Bogo, M., Regehr, C., Katz, E., Logie, C., Tufford, L., & Litvack, A. (2012). Evaluating an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) adapted for social work. Research on Social Work Practice, 22(4), 428–436.

  12. Bogo, M., Regehr, C., Power, R., & Regehr, G. (2007). When values collide: Field instructors’ experiences of providing feedback and evaluating competence. The Clinical Supervisor, 26(1/2), 99–117.

  13. Bogo, M., Regehr, C., Woodford, C., Hughes, J., Power, R., & Regehr, G. (2006). Beyond competences: Field instructors’ descriptions of student performance. Journal of Social Work Education, 42(3), 579–593.

  14. Boitel, C. R., & Fromm, L. R. (2014). Defining signature pedagogy in social work education: Learning theory and the learning contract. Journal of Social Work Education, 50(4), 608–622.

  15. Bostock, L., Forrester, D., Partrizo, L., Godfrey, T., Zonousi, M., Bird, H., & Tinarwo, M. (2017). Scaling and deepening the reclaiming Social work model evaluation report. Department of Education (HMSO). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/29570/1/Scaling_and_deepening_the_Reclaiming_Social_Work_model.pdf.

  16. Brodie, I., & Williams, V. (2013). Lifting the lid: Perspectives on and activity within student supervision. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 32(4), 506–522.

  17. Buck, P. W., Fletcher, P., & Bradley, J. (2016). Decision-making in social work field education: A “good enough” framework. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 35(4), 402–413.

  18. Cleak, A., Hawkins, L., Laughton, J., & Williams, B. (2015). Creating a standardised teaching and learning framework for social work field placements. Australian Social Work, 68(1), 49–64.

  19. Crisp, B. R., & Hosken, N. (2016). A fundamental rethink of practice learning in social work education. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 35(5), 506–517.

  20. Croisdale-Appleby, D. (2014). Revisioning social work education: An independent review. London: Department of Health.

  21. Cross, S., Hubbard, A., & Munro, E. (2010). Reclaiming social work: London Borough of Hackney Children and Young People’s Services. London: Human Reliability Associates and London School of Economics.

  22. Domakin, A. (2015). The importance of practice learning in social work: Do we practice what we preach? Social Work Education: The International Journal, 34(4), 399–413.

  23. Domakin, A., & Curry, L. (2017). Partners in practice: Developing integrated learning opportunities on the Frontline child and family social work qualifying programme. Child and Family Social Work. https://doi.org/10.1111/cfs.12396.

  24. Domakin, A., & Forrester, D. (2018). Putting practice at the heart of social work education: Can practice skills be reliably graded by different markers in child and family social work contexts? Social Work Education: The International Journal, 37(1), 66–77.

  25. Domakin, A., Forrester, D., & Killian, M. (forthcoming) Marking practice skills in social work qualifying education: A study of consistency in grading seven hundred observations of practice.

  26. Domakin, A., & Williams, J. (forthcoming) Learning how to grade practice reliably-developing a new pedagogy for marking practice in social work education.

  27. Finch, J. (2010). Can’t fail, won’t fail—Why practice assessors find it difficult to fail social work students: A qualitative study of practice assessors experience of assessing marginal or failing social work students (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved February 27, 2018, from http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/2370/.

  28. Finch, J., Schaub, J., & Dalyrmple, R. (2014). Projective identification and the fear of failing: Making sense of practice educators’ experiences of failing social work students in practice learning settings. Journal of Social Work Practice, 28(2), 139–154.

  29. Forrester, D., Kershaw, S., Moss, H., & Hughes, L. (2008). Communication skills in child protection: How do social workers talk to parents? Child and Family Social Work, 13(1), 41–51.

  30. Forrester, D., Westlake, D., McCann, M., Thurnham, A., Shefer, G., Glynn, G., & Killian, M. (2013). Reclaiming social work? An evaluation of systemic units as an approach to delivering children’s services. Luton: Tilda Goldberg Centre, University of Bedfordshire.

  31. Frederico, M., Long, M., McPherson, L., McNamara, P., & Cameron, N. (2016). A consortium approach for child and family practice education. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 35(7), 780–793.

  32. Goodman, S., & Trowler, I. (Eds.). (2012). Social work reclaimed. London: Jessica Kingsley.

  33. Gordon, R., & Mackay, G. (2017). The practice pyramid: A model for integrating social work values, theory and practice. Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 14(3), 52–67.

  34. Holden, G., Barker, K., Rosenberg, G., Kuppens, S., & Ferrell, L. W. (2011). The signature pedagogy of social work: An investigation of the evidence. Research on Social Work Practice, 38, 115–133.

  35. Lee, M., & Fortune, A. E. (2013). Do we need more “doing” activities or “thinking” activities in the field practicum? Journal of Social Work Education, 49(4), 646–660.

  36. Litvack, A., Bogo, M., & Mishna, F. (2010). Emotional reactions of students in field education: An exploratory study. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(2), 227–243.

  37. Maidment, J. (2000). Methods used to teach social work students in the field: A research report from New Zealand. Social Work Education, 19(2), 145–154.

  38. Maxwell, N., Scourfield, J., Le, M., de Villiers, Z., Hadfield, T., Kinnersley, M., Tayyaba, P. (2016). Independent evaluation of the frontline pilot research report. London: Department of Education.

  39. Meadows, M., & Billington, L. (2005). A review of the literature on marking reliability. London: National Assessment Agency.

  40. Miller, B., & Rollnick, S. (2012). Motivational interviewing: Helping people change (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

  41. Moyers, T. B., Martin, T., Manuel, J. K., Hendrickson, S. M., & Miller, W. R. (2005). Assessing competence in the use of motivational interviewing. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 28(1), 19–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2004.11.001.

  42. Munro, E. (2011). The Munro review of child protection (Final report: A child-centred system). London: Department for Education. Retrieved February 27, 2018, from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/175391/Munro-Review.pdf.

  43. Muskat, B., Bogo, M., & Perlman, I. (2012). Making rotational field placements work: Review of a successful pilot of rotational field placements in hospital settings. Journal of Practice Teaching & Learning, 11(1), 5–18.

  44. Plenty, J., & Gower, D. (2013). The reform of social work practice education and training and supporting practice educators. Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 12(2), 48–66.

  45. Regehr, C., Bogo, M., Donovan, K., Anstice, S., & Kim, A. (2012). Identifying student competencies in macro practice: Articulating the practice wisdom of field instructors. Journal of Social Work Education, 48(2), 307–319.

  46. Ruch, G. (2015) Evidence scope regarding the use of practice observation methods as part of the assessment of social work practice. Dartington: Research in Practice. https://www.rip.org.uk/resources/publications/evidence-scopes/regarding-the-use-of-practice-observation-methods-as-part-of-the-assessment-of-social-work-practice-evidence-scope-2015/.

  47. Scourfield, J., Maxwell, N., Le Zhang, M., De Villiers, T., Pithouse, A., Kinnersley, P., & Tayyaba, S. (2017). Evaluation of a fast-track postgraduate social work program in England using simulations. Research on Social Work Practice. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049731517735575.

  48. Shay, S. B. (2004). The assessment of complex performance: A socially situated interpretive act. Harvard Educational Review, 74(3), 307–329.

  49. Shulman, L. (2005). Signature pedagogies in the professions. Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 134(3), 52–59.

  50. Silman, J. (2016). One in four new children’s social workers will train on fast-track schemes by 2018. Retrieved February 27, 2018, from http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2016/01/15/one-four-new-childrens-social-workers-will-train-fast-track-schemes-2018/.

  51. Singh, T., Kundra, S., & Gupta, P. L. (2014). Direct observation and focused feedback for clinical skills training. Indian Pediatrics, 51(9), 713–717.

  52. Smith, D., Cleak, H., & Vreugdenhila, A. (2015). “What are they really doing?” An exploration of student learning activities in field placement. Australian Social Work, 68(4), 515–531.

  53. Tapp, K., Macke, C., & McLendon, T. (2012). Assessing student performance in field education. Field Scholar, 2(2), 1–14.

  54. Vinton, L., & Wilke, D. J. (2011). Leniency bias in evaluating clinical social work student interns. Clinical Social Work Journal, 39(3), 288–295.

  55. Wayne, J., Bogo, M., & Raskin, M. (2006). Field notes: The need for radical change in field education. Journal of Social Work Education, 42(1), 161–169.

  56. Wayne, J., Bogo, M., & Raskin, M. (2010). Field education as the signature pedagogy of social work education: Congruence and disparity. Journal of Social Work Education, 46(3), 327–339.

  57. Whittaker, C. E., Forrester, D., Killian, M., & Jones, R. K. (2017). Can we reliably measure social work communication skills? Development of a scale to measure child and family social work direct practice. International Journal of Child & Family Welfare, 17(1/2), 47–63.

  58. Zeira, A., & Schiff, M. (2014). Field education: A comparison of students’ and novice social workers’ perspectives. British Journal of Social Work, 44(7), 1950–1966.

Download references

Acknowledgement

With thanks to Professor Donald Forrester for his original research in this area, which has provided the foundation on which the grading of individual observations in child welfare contexts is built.

Author information

Correspondence to Alison Domakin.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Domakin, A. Grading Individual Observations of Practice in Child Welfare Contexts: A New Assessment Approach in Social Work Education. Clin Soc Work J 47, 103–112 (2019) doi:10.1007/s10615-018-0691-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Grading practice
  • Observations of practice
  • Social work education
  • Assessment
  • Child welfare social work